Grace Sahertian: HELA ‘Tracing Back the Roots’ Concert: The Report

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GraceSahertian-HELAThe length of Grace Sahertian‘s music career is about the same as ours. We have been following her since we were born and became friends with her through the years. We knew her as a soulful singer with deep passion in jazz, as she shown in her first band, Palm From Moodytunes. From there, we saw another milestone of her when she teamed up with the young guitarist now riding his international fame, Tesla Manaf, digging the jazz-coated world music. This duo managed to release one album. At around the same time, Grace also involved in an urban soul group, Circle O’Fifth, and joined the group from Depok, Margo Rising Stars.

In 2011 we heard about her taking another big decision, pursuing a solo career. It shouldn’t be difficult for someone her caliber, but she took this very seriously. Instead of rushing, as a true artist (she is also a reputable fiber artist outside music and currently works as the lecturer of Faculty of Fine Arts and Design majoring craft textiles and fashion), she took time, searching her inner self to find out what she really wanted.

GraceSahertian-Hela (1)Now finally the album has come out. With the title “HELA”, Grace Sahertian opens up her heart, mind and soul, using the album as a reflection of her 10 years journey. As an evidence, we could listen to variety of styles through 8 tracks, from soul, gospel, blues, jazz to world music, which are painted throughout her career. The album is expressive and artistic, but also easy to listen and to love. Even more, tracing back her roots, where the Sahertian family name came from and interestingly the nearly extinct language of Yamdena from the island of Maluku. You can read our review of this album here: http://jazzuality.com/album-reviews/grace-sahertian-hela-tracing-back-the-roots/

Grace wished to make the launching of her debut grand. So, she held this special concert at the auditorium of Institut Français Indonesia (IFI) Bandung on May 14, 2016. Choosing this venue is good, since this place seems to bring good fortune to artists who perform there. Just to remind you, Tulus actually launched his debut album with a special concert also in here 3 years ago. From here, he rose to fame and stands as one of the top stars today in Indonesia. Now it’s Tulus’ friend, Grace Sahertian to walk this path, may Grace follow his footsteps.

GraceSahertian-Hela-GindaBestari (1)All the tickets were sold out even long before the concert started. There were many faild to get the ticket, so they had to stay outside or went home. Inside the auditorium  all seat were taken by friends, family and fans. As the opening act, Grace featured one of the frontliners in Indonesia’s blues scene today, a remarkably talented young man named Ginda Bestari. Earlier last year he also released a critical acclaimed, most anticipated album titled “Soulful Desire” with super team including veterans Yance Manusama and Harry Anggoman, senior drummer Rayendar Sunito also featuring Yura Yunita in one track.

Ginda performed all by himself, giving a strong blues painting on stage. Playing a set of songs including his own from “Soulful Desire” titled “Free Your Mind”, he demonstrated how strong the blues runs inside his veins. Remarkable guitar playing and singing. Ginda is a real bluesman, but he has been living inside the jazz scene as well, as seen in how good he scat in unison with his guitar the way George Benson loves to do.

GraceSahertian-Hela-(18)After a hot opening, the main concert was directly began. The eerie music filled the pitch black hall. Theoresia Rumthe, one of the vocals stood up from the audience’s seat and narrated the opening. “I am Sahertian. Sahertian came from the words ‘Sei Heri Tiane’, which means ‘rowing passed the enemy’. Hela is a story of life, that I will tell to everyone who listen.” she said on behalf of Grace.

Then the stage light began to shine. Grace was there with the band: Rayhan Sudrajat (guitar), Gantira Sena (drums), Omega Touselak and Faishal (keys & Synth bass), and Puspallia Panggabean as the back vocal. This song is written in Yamdena language, a very old language from the east west of Maluku that took us into a journey of tracing back her roots. Without any stop, Grace carried on with “Freedom”, a song in black gospel blues and soul nuance that captures the feeling of recollection, repression, pain, unfairness, being chained until a shout of hope. Painful but not hopeless.

GraceSahertian-Hela (6)Grace then took one song not from the album but from her collaborative time with AJ the Real titled “Deep Down Inside”. This nice ballad was written in 2012. Then Grace sang her favorite from the album, “Picture Me”. A beautiful cellist who also plays for Bandung Philharmonic, Mega Ariani joined the team on this one and created much deeper feel through her play.

GraceSahertian-Hela (7)The hall turned to totally dark again. Theoresia Rumthe spoke a poetic opening for the carrier single, “Diam”. Slowly she walked towards Grace along with other singers: Puspallia Panggabean, Eka Karya, Ayub Jonn and  Johanes Fayakun. This acapella song interestingly appeared by having the choir scattered among the audience before they gathered in front, under the stage with Grace. They did a very beautiful work on vocal harmony.

The next song was “Da Di De”, presented really different than the album version. “Thanks to Tesla who rearranged this song for this concert”, said Grace. If in the album “Da Di De” was built within the blending of power nu metal/alternative rock and hiphop like Linkin’ Park, this time the song appeared much softer in acoustic style. Which one is better? We say, both work perfectly.

GraceSahertian-Hela (13)After that, Grace sang the only coversong in the concert, from Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album in 1995, “Hand in My Pocket.” The arrangement of this song was unique, because it digged the dramatic side of it through melody, harmony and dynamic.

GraceSahertian-Hela (10)Rayhan then kept his guitar aside for a while and played saluang, the traditional West Sumatra bamboo flute. Just like in the album, it was used as the opening of “Sun of Hope”, the only song with world music ambience in Hela. This song wich has a strong African rhythm not only felt like taking us into the dark, vast rainforest deep down in Africa but also inspirational. As she always loves to be connected to the earth and beautiful nature as a part of the universe, this epic song depicts it in the most graceful way.

GraceSahertian-Hela (15)As the last song, Grace invited everyone to dance with a Motown-feel song, “Better to Love”. In this song Grace introduced all the bands and singers one by one and had them showcase their thing. In the end, Grace got standing applause from most of the audience. It was a blast!

Grace Sahertian’s “HELA” concert was made really cool. Well prepared and nicely executed. For anyone who came to this concert, they will know that the album actually contains so many interesting stuffs and could perfectly work as a window to know Grace and what she has in her mind, heart and soul.”I still can’t believe it! I’m speechless”, said Grace to us after the concert.  We know how hard she works for this, with all the ups and downs and struggles. It’s really not easy for her passing through a long and winding road, but now it’s all paid off. It’s going to be interesting to see her career being developed after this. We are really happy for Grace.

GraceSahertian-Hela (16)A gorgeous album that has strong spirit and really, really artistic is up for grab. Support her by buying the album. Congratulations Grace! We wish you the best in your new chapter.

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Reporter: Riandy Kurniawan
Photographer: Mia Damayanti Sjahir

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